The World Health Organization (WHO) Laboratory Biosafety Manual, produced by the Special Program on Safety Measures in Microbiology (SMM), provides internationally applicable guidance on biosafety developed by several expert working groups.
Recognizing that laboratory accidents and infections are caused primarily by poor practice and technique, the manual emphasizes safe practice and training procedures. It also presents basic standards of laboratory design for work with microorganisms by degree of infective risk and a guide to selecting and using essential biosafety equipment and materials. Although oriented to biosafety, the manual also provides a general laboratory safety checklist and safety procedures for using and handling laboratory chemicals.
The manual is intended primarily for the guidance and use of laboratory supervisors, biosafety officers, and others responsible for laboratory safety programs. The following are highlights of the universal precautions for laboratories, per the biosafety manual:
-- All persons processing blood should wear gloves.
-- Phlebotomists should wear gloves when they have cuts, scratches, or other breaks in the skin, when hand contamination is predictable (i.e. uncooperative patient, or heel or finger sticks on infants and children), and when receiving training in phlebotomy.
-- Surgical or examinations gloves should not be washed or disinfected for reuse.
-- General-purpose utility gloves should not be used for housekeeping, instrument cleaning, and decontamination procedures and can be decontaminated for reuse as long as they remain in tact.
-- Masks and protective eyewear or face shields should be worn if mucous membrane contact with blood or bodily fluids is anticipated (i.e., removing tops from vacuum tubes).
-- Gowns, laboratory coats, or aprons should be worn during procedures that are likely to generate splashes of blood or bodily fluids and should be removed before leaving the laboratory.
-- Routine procedures, such as histologic and pathologic studies or microbiological culturing, do not require a BSC. BSCs (Class I or II) should be used whenever procedures are conducted that have a high potential for generating droplets (i.e., blending, sonicating, and vigorous mixing.)
Updated: Thursday, October 14, 2010
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